Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Treats Take Two

Last night's treats were a bit underwhelming, and since our plans for today fell through, Mim and Zaya decided that we should give it all another go.

Our town has a little event where kids do a march around the downtown square, and the business owners sit outside their respective doorways with buckets of candy. There were literally hundreds of people. Some of the other costumes were...interesting. Yeah, let's just leave it there.

Zaya continued with his IRS auditor outfit. It was a great success last night, and he decided not to mess with a good thing. He was even more popular today. We especially liked the reactions at the banks and H. & R. Block. For some reason they were extra sensitive.

Mim's Theodora outfit had hot cocoa on it, and she decided to go with something a little more well known. Today she was Nancy Drew, one of her new favorite characters. It was much more successful if the reactions of other people is how we're measuring success. (And apparently, that is exactly how we're measuring.)

Zaya was told several times that his was certainly the scariest costume, which thrilled his heart. Mim met several ladies who gave her nostalgic smiles and told her they loved Nancy Drew, which thrilled hers, and I heard a few people tell me that we obviously put serious thought and planning into the costumes. They were actually thrown together from things we already had around the house, so I decided to take that as a compliment. In reality, it's a compliment to the training I received from my mother.

They each came home with a bag full of candy. They promptly poured it all out on the kitchen floor and began sorting.

Mim's piles were a little more specific.

They each had a few Ziploc bags full when it was all finished. Zaya's categories were "bags that contain multiple pieces, chocolate and chewy, lollipops and other."

Mim filled three bags, and then hid them in her doll bed. No, they are not going to stay there.

This evening Mim sat in front of our house with a large bowl of candy. We didn't have one single visitor, so Mim used candy to alleviate her boredom. This is what she does. She builds things and stacks things.

And now, Mommy has her own gigantic bowl full of candy. If you listen very carefully, you can hear the sound of my voice tonight chanting to myself, "moderation, moderation, moderation."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Treat or Treat

I took the kids to the "big church" here in our town. They had a Trunk or Treat night with games and free food. (The "trunk" part consisted of three cars with a little candy in the trunk.) Since the kids really wanted to wear costumes this year, but I'm not too crazy about the whole holiday, this seemed like a reasonable compromise.

They ate hot dogs, popcorn, and candy, and drank lemonade and some tongue-scalding cocoa. There were really a surprisingly small number of games/booths for the size of that church, but I'm not complaining. It was free and safe and open to the entire community.

Mim dressed up as Empress Theodora, wife of Justinian of the Byzantine Empire.

She was quite annoyed that no one commented on her costume. She hasn't learned that unless you're wearing a label or a very famous superhero costume, people don't really know who you are. I told her she should just say, "Hi. I'm Theodora." She wasn't interested in that solution. Next year I'll just make her a nametag with Byzantine decor.

Zaya wanted to be an IRS auditor.

 He's been planning this all year. Since he had a tag with his profession on it, people commented on his costume. He carried around a clipboard and asked people to write their names and incomes for last year. Oddly enough, no one was interested in writing down their actual incomes. We got a lot of "not enough" or "too little."

I dressed up too. Sort of. I'm an off-duty FBI agent. Okay, so maybe I just pulled a jacket out of the closet and got a pair of old sunglasses. It counts though, right? I'm holding the Book of Secrets, so I even had a prop.

Aaron dressed up as an introvert. That is, he stayed home and worked on his cement stuff out back. I've been married long enough that I didn't for a moment assume he would be going with us. Crowds of people and social situations are not his cup of tea. Or hot chocolate, as the case may be.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Back In My Day...

I am in the process of introducing our children's church kids to the delights of old-school flannel-graph. I tried the round-the-table Sunday school approach that they had been using, but it just didn't work for me.

They now sit in neat little rows. We sing songs like "Grow, Grow, Grow", "Jesus Loves Me", and "One Door and Only One." Oh, and we use the flannel-graph. So far the kids love it.

"Ms. Cari! Are we going to use the little pictures that stick on the boards again?"

"Yes, yes we are."

Are they learning more? I don't know. I haven't quizzed them. I do know they recognize backgrounds when I re-use them. I was using some great, borrowed CEF books, but there were too many pieces missing to go any longer with them, and I asked the church if they would consent to my finding a full set of flannel-graph. We now have a set that includes all the pieces for 128 Bible stories, 3 big backdrops, extra scenery, a disc of coloring and activity sheets, and a big book with all the stories.

So, what does that mean for my Saturdays for the foreseeable future? It means my scissors will be a little more dull, my back will ache a little more, and it means my bedroom will have things like this in it.

Those are scraps from a mere 3 of the ten-odd sheets of felt pieces.

Here is a small part of the set on my bed. (Yes, I have a lot of pillows. I realize this. Yes, my spouse complains.)

Here's the top page in one of the file boxes. As you can see, it's the Jesus page. Mim walked over there and said,

"Mom, do you think they're all talking to each other?"

If they are, it's probably to mention my bad cutting skills, but we know He's forgiving, so I'm sure it'll be alright. Besides, I'll go back around each piece in detail when it's time for each story. Really! I will! This is just for now!

It'll be a few weeks before I can get started using the new pieces, but I'm looking forward to it. It's amazing how much better behaved the children are when they have something bright and shiny to look at. I'd better be careful or Pastor Bill will be asking for them!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Moment of Academia. Sort Of.

Here are my two children as defined by the exceptions to their normal rules. In general, Zaya doesn't read fiction, and Mim reads only fiction. However, they each have their own areas where they're willing to concede that the other might have merit.

Zaya is reading H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds, and explaining to me how the gravity and atmosphere of our planet would destroy the aliens.

Mim is reading Our Century in Pictures, published by Life magazine. If I'm in the room, she asks me about every other picture, and particularly any picture involving a dead body.

So, this might be a bit controversial, but it's one of those things that sort of happened. Zaya is a bit obsessed with alien races and there isn't a lot of information available in his science books on them. Mim loves to hear about the past, and what man has done to man.

My rationale (particularly for Mim) thus far has been as follows:

There are millions of children in this world for whom death is familiar and life-changing. There are children who suffered through the holocaust, the purges in Russia, the genocide of Rwanda...the list goes on and on. If those children can experience actual tragedy, and overcome, my child can handle hearing about it, and even seeing pictures. I believe she will be a stronger and more compassionate person for it.

If later therapy proves me wrong, so be it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Poor Little Pony

Mim: Mom, I want a pony.

Me: That's not happening. (I believe in letting them down easily.) When you are old enough to own your own place, then you can get one. Not before.

Mim: No. I want one now, not when I'm grown.

Me: (raised eyebrow) Oh really.

Mim: Yes, because when I'm older I won't want to do this. I want to get a pony and spray paint it to look like Twilight Sparkle. (pictured above)

I argued that the fact that she won't want to do it when she's older and wiser should give her pause, but her only response was

"Do you want to paint a pony?"


"There. That's why I should do it now."

I don't think she gets it....or maybe I don't.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Take a Deep Breath

Mim and Zaya caught their first fall cold. Of course, this falls right at the time we go back home to visit family, which means snuggling with babies and great-grandparents and others who might be immune-compromised. My sincerest apologies to anyone that hugged my children and received Rhinovirus in return.

It also happens to coincide with our having run out of Singulair. This is one of the medicines Zaya takes every night so that his asthma doesn't flair up when he gets a cold. We ran out of Singulair because we've used all the refills, and I didn't realize that until I called the pharmacy the day he took his last pill. So yeah, it's mostly my fault.

 I called his doctor to get a re-fill, and he happened to be on vacation all last week. So I called again today, now that we're home from our trip, and it turns out our doctor isn't in on Tuesdays. Of course he isn't. It was ridiculous, really, for me to think he would be.

So Zaya has started his wheezing. We pull out the inhaler, and dig the nasty-tasting liquid steroids out of the cabinet, and I thank God, once again, that he gave the one with allergies and asthma the most laid-back, take-it-as-it-comes personality on the planet.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I'll Never Talk

I don't think anyone would say they love going to the dentist. Well, I should qualify that by saying I don't know any adults who would say that. My children still love going to the dentist. I think this is mostly due to the bag of cool dental hygiene supplies that they get when they're finished. Oh, and the fact that they haven't had any cavities, thus, no pain.

I get a bag of cool dental hygiene supplies as well, but it doesn't make up for the pain and humiliation of sitting in that ugly, brown chair in the first place.

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood because they found another cavity, but I think it's mostly because a woman whose ancestors may have been involved in the fall of Rome was cleaning my teeth. Now don't get me wrong, she's a sweet lady, I'm sure, but in what other part of our life is it OK to let people we don't know jab sharp metal objects into our gums? Nowhere. That's the answer.

Yet I found myself lying back on a plastic chair while my teeth were "cleaned", and my mind flashed back to the few super-spy torture scenes I've witnessed on the telly. You know the ones. The spy refuses to give information, so the evil and usually deformed henchman unrolls a set of dirty metal tools. (I don't know what happens after that because I close my eyes and hold my ears.)

 My particular interrogator was not deformed, in fact, I'm sure she was lovely and kind, but she hummed non-stop while she worked. I think it was supposed to be comforting, but remember that in my mind I'm James Bond being questioned by Dr. Death. The humming made it all one degree creepier.

And isn't it so much fun when they find that one little cavity, and then decide to dig around on it a while just to make sure? Again, think torturer. The woman enjoyed it, and no one will convince me otherwise.

At one point there were four different pieces of equipment in my mouth, plus the fingers of two dental hygenists. All I could think of was the Far Side cartoon pictured above. I started to laugh, and the ladies thought I was choking. They stopped for a second, looking confused, and I told them, "Ladies, there's only so much you can fit in there." They gave me a weird look I always get when I go out in public, and went right back to what they were doing.

I walked out with a forced smile, two reminder cards for a filling and my next cleaning, a mouth rinse made primarily from wheat-grass juice, and all the free loot I could grab on the way out of the office. Maybe it was petty, but I'm not going to let evil triumph. Maybe that 2013 pocket calender is really part of their plan for world domination. Maybe it was all worth it. Or maybe they were only getting started.

Project Improv

It turns out I sew the same way I cook. Which is to say, I compile tons of ideas and patterns and books, then I just make up my own things and completely ignore all the advice.

We made a cloak for our history project. It will have little Fleur-de-lis on it sometime in the near future. (Made with foam cut-outs and paint.) I have tons of instructions and patterns around for cloaks. I didn't use any of them. In fact, I didn't even iron the material or use any kind of measuring device at any point in the proceedings.

I realize one should not attempt to "eyeball it" until one has some degree of competence, but let's face it. If it's going to be a huge ordeal and take a lot of time and effort, it'll never get done. Instead, I bought a scrap of fabric and started making stuff up.

Zaya helped thread the tie through, and Mim sewed a few of the stitches.

I had her pose for this picture after we had started to clean-up, hence the lack of fabric and thread in the machine.

It won't stand up to close scrutiny by a professional, but it'll work for a couple of hyper, costume wearing kids who can't hold still for more than two minutes together. If it's always in motion, who's to know?

I'd like to say that I'll someday do everything just the way it should be done...but...I try not to lie. The most important thing is that it is actually finished, and the kids don't care if I evened up all the seams.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Monster Stomping

We had a little family game night here on Friday evening. We pulled out Munchkin, which was a Christmas gift of Art's last year. (Yes, some of the cards were removed and thrown away before the game commenced.)

Even though Zaya was wearing his Buckler of Swashing, and Art was sitting at level 9 for three or four rounds, it was Mim who was the first to level ten. This may have had something to do with my helping her defeat the final monster. (I gave her my Cotion of Ponfusion.)

What can I say? Mama doesn't like games that go on and on and on.... Besides, it was bath-time, and after bath-time comes bedtime, and when the children are sleeping I can officially congratulate myself on another day successfully completed.

My definition of success is that my family members are still alive and mostly unharmed, and nothing major in the house was destroyed. Keeping your expectations low is vital to keeping your sanity as a mommy. That's my theory anyway.

 Another free parenting tip - the kids can put whatever they want on their popcorn. Why not? I may think it sounds disgusting, but they enjoy the illusion of freedom, and no one is harmed. That is why Mim has a container of chili flavored lime-salt and a small bottle of pink cake sugar. Something that would be considered cruel and unusual in any civilized court of law can be exciting and delicious to a seven-year-old.

Living on the Edge

We went to Branson last weekend, and the kids (and I) experienced Silver Dollar City for the first time. Since they had never been to an amusement park before, it was a real toss up as to whether or not they would enjoy the rides. It turns out they were divided. One loved the roller coasters, one absolutely did not.

Here's your first clue as to which one is which.

The one hugging the rail and crying is the one who spent the day walking and window shopping with Mommy. The one sitting back with the big grin went on every roller coaster in the park. Some of them three and four times.

This is the face of a risk-taker.

This is not.

This ride is called Wildfire.

Art and Zaya rode it four times. Four times. Why? You'll have to ask them, because I wasn't even tempted to try it once. I don't see how pants-wetting terror is an enjoyable feeling, or can be labeled "fun", but apparently there are enough people who feel otherwise that it's worth it to the park to have quite a few roller coasters (and they're building another that the boys are excited about).

Mim and I had a great time as well, but our fun was just a little more peaceful and tummy-friendly. We bought gifts for Zaya and new cousin Edison, a few postcards for writing practice, candy from the sweet shop, and Mim did find a fun house that she loved. It made me dizzy, so by the end of the day she and Zaya (we had caught back up with the boys and she wanted to show it to him) went through it by themselves while I watched. Oh, and there was a river ride that was tame enough to tempt her, and received a two thumbs up from the little critic.

We definitely plan to go back someday, and this time we'll know from the beginning to split up and meet for lunch.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Mim has suddenly developed an interest in My Little Pony. It's a little bit like a virus. Once the child is exposed to it, you discover whether or not they have an immunity. I believe she will recover, which means her system is strong, but she couldn't completely fight it away. I suppose letting her spend her money on a Pony (oh, and then buying her one for her birthday) didn't help. What can I say? "Mommy" is just another word for "enabler."

She has also started fixing hair. Not her own, mind you, because that would be fantastic and Mom would be thrilled. No, it's mostly the Ponies' hair that gets treatment. Usually it's brushed smooth and lovely, but she's discovered the wonders of hair spray as well.

At least she'll be prepared for a career in equine grooming if this whole homeschool thing doesn't work out. They'll have to be punk horses, though, because this child likes some bright colors.